I think this is a useful bit of info, so I'll post the Q&A here for others to link to.

For those who don't have the luxury of being affiliated with a university, it can be difficult to find many of the journal articles that are cited by answers on cogsci.SE. Fortunately, many articles are hosted for free by their respective authors or institutions.

  • Great question, thanks!
    – Josh
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 3:35

2 Answers 2


Here's a quick way to see if an alternate, free copy exists on the web:

1) Go to Google Scholar.

2) Enter the FULL name of the article you want to retrieve, IN QUOTES.

3) Usually, the article you are seeking is in the first few results. Under the article's blurb, it often says All XX versions (where XX is a number). Click it.

4) Look at the links in the RIGHT column. There are often links directly to a PDF of the article that Google has spider'd. Make sure to check all of the page results to see if a PDF copy exists.

This technique saves me from opening up a VPN 85% of the time. If you STILL can't find a copy, try searching for the authors name and institution on Google-- often authors have a copy of the article on their lab website, or will be willing to provide you with a re-print if you e-mail them.

In the "worst case scenario", visit a university near you. Many of them have free WiFi which enable you to access journal subscriptions via Google Scholar, PubMed, etc.


It is possible to ask the author of an article for reprints (pdf). Usually they respond quickly and are happy to send a pdf.

  • 1
    everybody likes having their work read :D. But before you do this, make sure that it isn't already on their website. Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 3:02
  • Yes, of course you should. But in that case you would have found it before via google scholar like explained by Jeff above.
    – H.Muster
    Commented Apr 17, 2012 at 6:31
  • I was hesitant but I did this yesterday and less than 24 hrs later a pdf is in my email. Great advice!
    – Ryan
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 11:38
  • There is no need to be hesitant as it is quite common to ask for reprints. I do it quite often and never got an unfriendly answer. On two occasions, however, I did not got a response on my request.
    – H.Muster
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 14:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .